An Ayrshire housing and debt charity is extending their services to combat rising wait times after seeing referrals multiply.

CHAP (Community Housing Advocacy Project) has had wait times for their services increase to a month after the number of people referred to their services rose by 30 per cent – which they attribute to the cost-of living crisis.

The charity is looking to open more community hubs throughout the area to reduce wait times and make their services more accessible to those who may struggle to afford a visit to their Ardrossan based hub.

CHAP CEO Debbie Alexander said: “This year, more than any I can remember, we are seeing people whose income means they cannot cover rising heating and food bills, no matter what they do.

“Even bus fares can stretch resources too far and prevent people from getting the help they so urgently need.

“To ask people to wait a month or more to start a conversation is not what anyone wants.

“While some emergency and hardship assistance is immediately available, our strategy has been to move as much as possible out into the community and increase the general information available online.

“Current plans also include extending CHAP’s community hub model, where people do not have to travel to seek assistance.”

As a charity providing a free service they rely heavily on funding from North, South, and East Ayrshire Councils but are facing issues as the need for their services increases but  councils struggle with the effects of austerity.

Now the organisation is in talks with the Ayrshire councils to try and tackle the rising issues of homelessness and housing insecurity in the area.

Chair of CHAP’s board of trustees, Ray Chaney, said: “We are actively liaising with representatives at the Ayrshire Councils to stress that, without good, independent debt, welfare and housing advice, a rising number of people are in real danger of homelessness and serious harm.

“Anything we can do to ensure families stay together, avoiding homelessness, harm and unbearable strain on individuals’ physical and mental health has to be a sound investment.”

Advice on housing, energy, and bills can be found on CHAP’s website: